The second game would pit us against a higher-seeded team. We were up against a familiar rival: those Minnewaska Area Lakers. But the site was neither Morris nor 'Waska. It was Montevideo. There the Tigers came from behind, finding new life and posting a 57-54 win.
We thus have the right to face those Wildcats of New London-Spicer, a real nemesis team. Our win over Minnewaska Area was our ninth straight.
The situation was bleak at halftime as we trailed by nine. 'Waska scored the game's first four points. A persistent full-court press was bothering the Tigers. The Lakers seemed especially resolved to neutralize Correy Hickman, our point guard. Our offense stagnated in much of the first half. Bayley Pooler of the Lakers scored eleven first half points. The score was 28-19 at halftime of this Section 3AA-North semi-final game.
We were hindered by Ashley Solvie picking up three early fouls. She was advised to play more conservatively on defense and turn up her intensity on offense. The Tigers simply needed her to score. She indeed ended up coming through.
We picked up steam thanks to a pair of 3's close together. There's nothing like three-pointers to pick up that jump start. Ashley Solvie maneuvered to score off an offensive rebound. Her putback shot got the score tied at 52-all. A Riley Decker freethrow put us up by one with less than a minute left. Then it was Hickman sinking a pair of freethrows to account for the game's final points.
"A fun win," a proud coach Henrich commented to the media.
Decker made five of her seven 3-point shot tries - essential fuel.
Coach Henrich is now exuding confidence, but a truly stellar effort and maybe some luck will be needed to challenge the Wildcats coached by the legendary Mike Dreier. Coch Dreier has his team ranked No. 6 at present. Henrich said "we're mentally more aware. We just can't chase them." We now own 18 wins on the season.
Ashley Solvie had a point harvest of 17 in the win over 'Waska. Decker's thrilling three-point shooting performance lifted her to 16 points. Her five 3's were complemented by one by Maddie Carrington. Malory Anderson came through with ten points. Three other Tigers scored: Hickman 7, Nicole Solvie 4 and Carrington 3.
Hickman led in rebounds with eight followed by Anderson and Nicole Solvie each with six. Decker and Hickman each produced four assists, and Carrington with her three steals led there.
Bayley Pooler and Carley Stewart each scored 16 points for 'Waska. Ellie Danielson scored 12. Then we have Abby VerSteeg contributing six points and Emma Thorfinnson four. Pooler made four 3-pointers and VerSteeg made two.
'Waska closes the books on its season with a win total of 20. We're two wins behind that but who cares now? It will be interesting to see how hard we can come at the Wildcats.
But it was mission accomplished by a margin of just one point. We got past the stubborn Sting by a score of 57-56. This was a Section 3AA-North sub-section quarter-final game. We opened play as the No. 3 seed. Our win over the Sting was our 17th overall on the season. YME closed out its season with a 10-14 record.
We led 29-25 at halftime. We were outscored 31-28 in the second half. We dodged a bullet. Maddie Carrington and Correy Hickman supplied some most essential three-point shooting. Each of these Tigers made three 3-pointers. Riley Decker's three-pointer ended up most essential too! Three Tigers scored in double figures: Hickman 15, Ashley Solvie 14 and Carrington 13. The other point contributors were Malory Anderson 6, Decker 5, Jenna Howden 2 and Nicole Solvie 2. Anderson and Hickman each grabbed eight rebounds while Ashley Solvie grabbed seven. Hickman was an assist whiz with eleven, and Decker contributed four in this department. Hickman had five steals followed by Carrington and Ashley Solvie each with four.
We may have done well in the second half. In fact we outscored the Sauk Centre Streeters 41-28 in the second half. If only those numbers dictated the complexion of the whole game. They did not. Those Streeters crushed us 37-20 in the first half. This 65-61 loss left us one game shy of .500 at 13-12. Sauk's mark: 18-6.
Tanner Rieland was a thorn in our side. This Streeter burned the nets for 19 points. He was one of a threesome of Streeters doing real damage. Cade Neubert scored 18 points and Simon Weller put in 16. Sauk had an "iron man" type of look with only five total players scoring. Isaiah Westby scored seven points and Casey Schirmers put in five. Congrats to this tightly-functioning unit.
Rieland and Schirmers each made a three-pointer. Westby and Weller each had seven rebounds. Weller dished out four assists.
Let's review the Tiger numbers: here it was Jacob Zosel setting the pace with 15 points. Tate Nelson scored 11 points and Camden Arndt ten. The rest of the list: Tim Travis 9, Lukus Manska 7, Jaret Johnson 5, Connor Koebernick 2 and Denner Dougherty 2.
A total of six Tigers made three-pointers! Nelson and Zosel each made two. Travis, Arndt, Manska and Johnson each made one. Johnson collected six rebounds while Nelson had five. Zosel executed four assists. Manska stole the ball twice.
This was such a visible gesture of saying "girls basketball isn't quite there yet!" I heard hardly any mention of it. I often thought it would be nice to pull out all the bleachers even if attendance didn't seem to justify it. One problem was that in the 1980s, our girls basketball program was not competitive. Unfortunately there is a correlation between attendance and team performance. The 1980s were when Hancock and Wheaton tended to rule in this area for girls basketball.
Hancock had the aggressive, flashy and unfortunately doomed Dennis Courneya as their coach. He got into legal trouble. He ended up in the crowbar motel for a time. The Wheaton coach in that heyday was Earl Steffens. Nobody spoke about our Tigers in the same breath with Hancock or Wheaton. Maybe I should write a book someday. I have joked with Del Sarlette about what the title of my autobiography would be: "Add Dreams of Glory." (This is a line we remember from Jim Bouton's book "Ball Four.")
Our 1968 gym was a huge deal in this community when it first opened. Before that we used a facility - what would later be called the "elementary auditorium" - that would be appropriate in the movie "Hoosiers." BTW did Gene Hackman really get the girl?
I saw a few games in our old facility, part of a complex now razed. Weeds now grow there. I remember watching the great Paul Kelly. The 1968 gym seemed absolutely glitzy compared to its predecessor. But alas, time passes and now the '68 gym seems downright obscure. Maybe even forgotten? The sands of time cannot be stopped. We're just here to mop and dry.